Or, The Whale: Or, The Whale

RIYL: The Jayhawks, The Parson Red Heads, Wilco

Note to Alison Krauss and Bob Dylan: give Or, The Whale a call next time you’re looking for a hot young opening band to help carry your Americana torch. Indeed, a tinge of that days-of-old feeling permeates the sweet, harmony-laden sounds of San Francisco’s rising alt-country starlets in Or, The Whale. On the band’s self-titled second album, steel and acoustic guitars provide the rural flavor, and the vocals of Lindsay Garfield, bassist Justin Fantil, keyboardist Julie Ann Thomasson and guitarists Alex Robins and Matt Sartain seal the deal. They lead, coalesce, and otherwise intertwine in ways that suggest a deep down happiness that transcends the heartbreaking subject matter, like the agoraphobe in “Never Coming Out” and dead dog lament “Datura.” These are all fine and dandy, but the album’s clincher is the slow building centerpiece “Count the Stars,” where sound, feel and execution meet to achieve a harmonious balance that rivals the one inherent in the band’s own vocal strength. (Seany 2009)

Or, The Whale MySpace